Caretaker in Paradise
"I love the remoteness and the beauty," says Merlin Scott, summer caretaker of the Rubicon Springs, from the porch of his rustic cabin, during the 50th Anniversary of the Jeepers Jamboree. Scott, who's spent four months of the year for the past decade in this peaceful valley, was surrounded by nearly 3000 four-wheeling enthusiasts busy at play and relaxation after their drive into the Springs.

So how do four-wheelers relax on the Rubicon? After setting up camp, they soak in the mineral springs, tinker and repair their own or someone else's Jeep, check out the vast display of Jeep vehicles that range from old to new, bone stock to modified, as well as the latest in the rock-crawling Jeep models.

"Our numbers this year for the Golden Anniversary were about twice what they've been the past few years," says Scott, "because of the Jamboree, and because there's an increasing interest in four-wheeling all over the U.S. We had Jeepers from many other countries, as well. Since I started with Jeep Jamboree USA in 1972, I've seen it grow from a man's sport to a family event."

While some are interested in "their machine against the elements," Scott likes the fact that many visitors to the Springs are also interested in outdoor adventure and the valley and its history. Over the weekend, there were guided hikes and Scott was always ready to share the history of the valley from its days as a summer paradise for Indians to the first-known settlers and its resort era.--S.M.